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Editorial

Political tolerance is key to peace and stability

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In his departing comments to the people of Grand Gedeh County on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at the Zwedru City Hall, President George Manneh Weah emphasized the need for political tolerance in the county in order to move ahead with economic development. He urged Grand Gedeans who voted for him overwhelmingly during the 2017 elections to tolerate opposition views in fostering a democratic culture in their midst.

The call is in direct reference to violence in Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County on Thursday, 30 July 2020 when hundreds of thugs throwing stones and waving machetes prevented the leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress and former chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Alexander B. Cummings, and Montserrado County District#10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah from stepping out to address supporters in the county after a stopover from Maryland County.

The opposition delegation woke up to a nightmare on the 30th of July last year when angry youths, armed with stones, sticks and cutlasses, among others barricaded B-2 Motel in the heart of Zwedru City, where Mr. Cummings, Representative Kolubah and other members of their entourage lodged. The mobs threatened to lynch Rep. Kolubah for constantly ranting invectives at President George Manneh Weah.

That incident received condemnation from the Grand Gedeh County Legislative Caucus and the international communication with calls for speedy investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Findings of investigation by the government are yet to be made public.

But President Weah was very emphatic on Saturday when he told citizens of the county that despite their support for his administration, they should tolerate opposition politicians as guaranteed under the Constitution.

We believe the remark by the President is important in promoting diversity of opinions or contrary views as required by freedom of speech. Mr. Weah further stressed that there would be no development both in Grand Gedeh and the entire Liberia without peace, so peace and tolerance for one another should be upheld.

We join the President in calling on citizens of that county to cherish tolerance and peace for the sake of national unity and economic progress. Development cannot thrive in chaos.

Additionally, Grand Gedeans should be reminded in no uncertain terms that Liberia is not for any pacific President or administration. Rather, the democratic space, thru the Constitution allows a person to be elected at the ballot box to govern the state for a specific tenure.

No matter who is elected President, that person automatically becomes leader for the entire Republic, which includes both his own supporters and the opposition. He may not be liked or loved by all of the citizens but tolerance requires that critical or contrary views are expressed without threats to those expressing such views.

In fact, critical views strengthen democracy and the government in power to govern well in the interest of all citizens, including the opposition. If a President succeeds in his administration, it is Liberia that gets the credit.

This is the message President Weah wants the people of Grand Gedeh County to run with: He appreciates so highly that they love him 100 percent, as demonstrated at the ballot box, but at the same time, others may express contrary views about his leadership. This should not give his supporters right to go after those people who criticize his government. History has proven time and again, that doing so is counterproductive.

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